Saturday, February 27, 2010

Quick 'N Dirty Review: Spoon | Transference

Before we start, here's a quick look at the rating system that we use here at The Dirtywhirl:

100 - Classic Album; One Of The Best Of All Time
99-90 - Exceptional Work; Rush Out And Get This
89-80 - Very, Very Good; You Should Still Go Out And Get This
79-70 - Not Bad At All; Might Actually Be Worth Your Time
69-60 - Has Its Moments But On The Whole... Meh
59-50 - Won't Make Your Ears Bleed; Won't Make You Dance, Either
49-0 - Don't Waste Your Time; You're Smarter Than This (Probably)

Now... onto the review:

A friend of mine has a theory that any band - regardless of who they are - is only capable of a maximum of three good albums. Now, I don't necessarily subscribe to this idea but it's interesting to keep in mind as Spoon's three-record winning streak comes to an end with the release of Transference. Don't get me wrong, Transference is likely to be better than 80% of what's released this year but for the band that's responsible for Kill The Moonlight, Gimme Fiction, and Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga in succession over the past eight years, it's clearly not up to the admittedly lofty standards that Spoon has set for themselves and their fans. It's a very strange record and by strange I don't mean that Britt Daniel and company are tackling bizarre soundscapes and peculiar lyrics. No, Transference is a strange record in that, over the course of 11 tracks I can count over a half dozen highlights which, in normal cases, would make for a very good record. However, the whole of Transference ends up being much less than the sum of its parts. It's difficult to locate this record's soul. Part of the problem is that much of the experimentation of their previous records is gone in favor of a more minimalist type of approach. Sure, "Is Love Forever?" has elements in common with Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga's "The Ghost Of You Lingers" and "Out Go The Lights" is one of the most seductive songs that Spoon's recorded, but those are two of the only tracks that are trying something different. Songs like "The Mystery Zone" and "Trouble Comes Running" are paint-by-numbers, bordering on lazy Spoon. "Got Nuffin," which was originally previewed on last year's EP of the same name, is an example of using the time-honored Spoon formula to much better results and, had Transference mixed their experimental side with more tracks to the caliber of "Got Nuffin," we'd be looking at a laudatory album. Transference still gets a fairly decent score, but at the same time it ranks as one of 2010's early disappointments (albeit a slight one) for the sheer fact that Spoon has proven in the past that they're better than this.

RIYL (Recommended If You Like): Pavement; Tapes 'n Tapes; Ramshackle rock; Three chords; Vince Vaughn 
Standout Tracks: "Got Nuffin"; "Out Go The Lights"; "Who Makes Your Money"; "Written In Reverse"

Dirty Rating: 78/100

Band We Love Right Now: Yeasayer

Imagine a more accessible Animal Collective crossed with the synthy goodness of MGMT and you have a pretty close approximation of the Brooklyn-based Yeasayer's sound. We've been spinning their second full-length, Odd Blood, pretty much non-stop over the past week. Listen below and get in on the fun.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Funny Or Die Friday

In this week's edition of Funny Or Die Friday, Pee-Wee Herman gets this new thing called an iPad... iPad, am I saying that right? I hear everyone on the Internets loves them. Check it out.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

"Don't You Want Grandkids?" "Well, If I Did I Would Just Scrape All Of Your Previous Mishaps Into A Pile And Knit A Onesie For It."

What better way to usher in Snowmageddon 2: Electric Boogaloo on the East Coast than with an Archer mini-marathon? Celebrate this week's renewal of THE FUNNIEST GODDAMN SHOW ON TV with a two-hour, four-episode block on FX starting tonight at 10. Featuring "Diversity Hire," "Honeypot," "Mole Hunt," and "Training Day," this is the perfect time to catch up on what you've been missing. As a bonus, watch to find out what the following lines mean:

"Seriously, Lana. Call Kenny Loggins cuz you're in the Danger Zone. From Top Gun?"
"This one actually seems kinda gay." "Maybe that's because our penises are touching."
"She says she can't go to the hospital because she's, quote, 'tripping balls.'"
"Seriously. That's like, eggs 101, Woodhouse."
"Ohmigod. You, like, sneeze glitter."
"Immigrants! That's all they do, you know. Just driving around listening to the raps and shooting all the jobs."
"Sorry. Let's just call it what it is. Food rapist."

Seriously. Just watch it. I've also embedded the latest episode posted to Hulu, "Diversity Hire," below for your convenience. Don't say we never did anything for you.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Quick 'N Dirty Review: Eels | End Times

Before we start, here's a quick look at the rating system that we use here at The Dirtywhirl:

100 - Classic Album; One Of The Best Of All Time
99-90 - Exceptional Work; Rush Out And Get This
89-80 - Very, Very Good; You Should Still Go Out And Get This
79-70 - Not Bad At All; Might Actually Be Worth Your Time
69-60 - Has Its Moments But On The Whole... Meh
59-50 - Won't Make Your Ears Bleed; Won't Make You Dance, Either
49-0 - Don't Waste Your Time; You're Smarter Than This (Probably)

Now... onto the review:

Eels | End Times

Fantasy football players, whether they realize it or not, are familiar with the fantasy kryptonite phenomenon. Players who are fantasy kryptonite are ones who, despite the fact that they burn you and disappoint you over and over, continue to take up space on your team year after year. Eels are one of my my musical kryptonite bands. They haven't put out a truly complete release since 1998's Electro-Shock Blues, yet I keep fooling myself into thinking, "This new record might just be the one..." Sadly, End Times (much like the five that came before it) is not "the one." Despite being probably their bleakest record since Electro-Shock Blues, it fails to resonate on any level and that's coming from someone who loves me some depressing shit. "Little Bird," which was released as a teaser late last year, had me very optimistic for End Times's prospects but, while tonally the record is very similar to the desperation and darkness of "Little Bird," somehow it just doesn't work. It could simply be because Eels have ventured down this road one too many times. Head Eel Mark "E" Everett (who really is the band unto himself these days) has made a career out of musically expressing his self-pity and self-loathing but after a while you can't help but think to yourself, dude, is it really that bad? Do you really need eight albums, let alone one released so soon after last year's Hombre Lobo, to work this stuff out? "End Times," "I Need A Mother," and "The Beginning" are all indicative of E's need for a hug and all come with varying levels of success. If we're being completely honest, other than "A Line In The Dirt" (a tender look at a deteriorating relationship), the aforementioned "Little Bird," and the title track, there isn't much here to justify this record's existence. End Times, ultimately, is mediocre in almost every respect. Yet will I go into their next release thinking that it might finally be "the one?" Yeah... I probably will. Musical kryptonite, my friends. Musical kryptonite.

RIYL (Recommended If You Like): Elliot Smith; Death; Depression; The same themes over and over ad nauseum

Dirty Rating: 54/100

Sunday, February 21, 2010

You're Not Privy To All The New Shit, So Uh, You Know, But That's What You Pay Me For

Holy mother of God there is nothing this week. Expect a fair amount of ranting as a result. No good new CDs, DVDs, or TV make The Dirtywhirl something something.

Shout Out Louds | Work
A friend of mine turned me onto their last record, Our Ill Wills, and I dug it in that it was clearly influenced by The Cure. Robert Smith = musical god. On the other hand, the first single from Work, "Walls," left me cold and their first record kinda sucked. Tempered enthusiasm for this one.

Johnny Cash | American VI: Ain't No Grave
Rick Rubin embarks on his quest to turn The Man In Black into country's answer to Tupac as Cash's first posthumous record is released. American VI: Ain't No Grave was culled from the American V sessions so expect more spare, death-obsessed tracks.

Joanna Newsom | Have One On Me
Indie hype alert. Joanna Newsom, whose last record Ys was a critical darling, releases a triple - TRIPLE! - album as a follow up. Did I mention that she has a quirky voice and plays the harp. Yeah... this definitely isn't for everyone.

The Informant
Goddamn you Warner Brothers and your stupid new release window. Netflix subscribers and Redbox users don't get this one for another 28 days due to WB's bitchiness. Morons... I'm assuming that the hope is that more people will shell out full price to purchase the movie if they can't rent it right away but guess what? I ain't buying a movie sight unseen, even if it looks as good as The Informant. All you're doing with your release window is delaying purchases. Genius plan. No wonder people pirate the shit out of your movies.

The Box
Another WB "exclusive." Don't care as much about this one since everyone and their mother said it blows.

Jersey Shore: Season 1 Uncensored
I swear to God if you buy this you should be sterilized. You think I'm joking.

Jesus... everyone must be scared of the Olympics because there is NOTHING on this week. Catch up on your DVR'd shows or something because there's really nothing to recommend. One more week... one more week... 

Cop Out
This one could really go either way but it has Tracy Morgan in probably his biggest film role to date and the dude is hilarious. And crazy... can't forget crazy, so it could be worth checking out. For what it's worth, the red band trailer was much more encouraging than the initial sanitized version.

Cop Out Red Band Trailer

The Crazies
Remake of the 1973 horror film of the same name. Timothy Olyphant stars and he was great in Deadwood and the last season of Damages. His upcoming FX series, Justified, also premieres in March and looks pretty badass as well so I may check this out at some point. Not in any rush, though.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

What We've Been Listening To

Not that anyone really asked, but here's a playlist for what we've been listening to during the first half of February here at The Dirtywhirl home offices:

Los Campesinos, "Romance Is Boring", Romance Is Boring
Spoon, "Out Go The Lights", Transference
Los Campesinos, "In Medias Res", Romance Is Boring
Charlotte Gainsbourg, "Greenwich Mean Time", IRM
Paramore, "All I Wanted", brand new eyes
Paramore, "The Only Exception", brand new eyes
The Knife, "Colouring Of Pigeons", Tomorrow, In A Year
T'Pau, "Heart And Soul", Bridge Of Spies
Julian Casablancas, "11th Dimension", Phrazes For The Young
Charlotte Gainsbourg, "IRM", IRM
OK Go, "Last Leaf", Of The Blue Colour Of The Sky
Yeasayer, "O.N.E.", Odd Blood 
matt pond PA, "Snow Day", Winter Songs (EP) 
Massive Attack, "Paradise Circus", Heligoland
My Bloody Valentine, "When You Sleep", Loveless
Sade, "The Moon And The Sky", Soldier Of Love
The Velvet Underground, "Oh! Sweet Nuthin'", Loaded

Friday, February 19, 2010

Funny Or Die Friday

It's about 45 minutes until the premiere of HBO's Funny Or Die Presents and, to commemorate the occasion (and to get a really easy blog post out of the way) we thought we'd post a video from Funny Or Die every Friday and call it... Funny Or Die Friday (it's late and we're tired). For your viewing pleasure, please enjoy "Death Bed Subtext" starring Topher Grace, Kate Bosworth, and the world's worst director. Oh, and this is very, very NSFW.... which is what makes it extra funny.

Death Bed Subtext 

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Quick 'N Dirty Review: OK Go | Of The Blue Colour Of The Sky

Before we start, here's a quick look at the rating system that we use here at The Dirtywhirl:

100 - Classic Album; One Of The Best Of All Time
99-90 - Exceptional Work; Rush Out And Get This
89-80 - Very, Very Good; You Should Still Go Out And Get This
79-70 - Not Bad At All; Might Actually Be Worth Your Time
69-60 - Has Its Moments But On The Whole... Meh
59-50 - Won't Make Your Ears Bleed; Won't Make You Dance, Either
49-0 - Don't Waste Your Time; You're Smarter Than This (Probably)

Now... onto the review:

OK Go | Of The Blue Colour Of The Sky

I'm a Philadelphia 76ers fan -- as much as one can be these days anyway -- and their biggest problem over the last five years or so (beyond albatross contracts and a lack of developing talent) has been their inability to establish an identity. Do they want to be a high-scoring, fast breaking offensive squad or a shutdown defensive machine content to grind out wins? Unfortunately for their fanbase, they're still deciding. A similar problem plagues OK Go on their third release, Of The Blue Colour Of The Sky. Are they the 80s revivalists of "End Love" or the gentle acoustic act of "Last Leaf"? The disco, four on the floor band of "White Knuckles" or their Oh No-era incarnation on "This Too Shall Pass" (whose video is a barely disguised attempt to recapture the viral success of Oh No's treadmill-laden clip for "Here It Goes Again")? The dilemma here is that OK Go has not distinguished any discernible identity three records in, which is a point where most bands have defined where they want to go with their sound. Without a doubt Of The Blue Colour Of The Sky is the most richly produced album of their career, thanks in large part to the choice of David Fridmann (Flaming Lips, MGMT, Thursday) as producer, but OK Go's ambition is miles ahead of their execution. The choice of "WTF" (which, as we know from Phil on Modern Family, clearly stands for "Why the face?") as lead single demonstrates this. There are probably 87 different things going on during the three minutes and 25 seconds of the track, with only about a sixth of them being any good. It was also purportedly inspired by Prince and, if this is the case, OK Go has clearly been listening to late period Prince. The matt pond PA-esque "Last Leaf" and "This Too Shall Pass" are honestly some of the best work the band has done to date, but there are too many tracks like "Needing/Getting" and "Before The Earth Was Round" that fall completely flat, making the record much too inconsistent. Cute but schizophrenic is the best way to describe Of The Blue Colour Of The Sky and, clearly, cute can't be what OK Go could or should be aiming for.

Dirty Rating: 59/100

OK Go, "This Too Shall Pass"

Monday, February 15, 2010

New Crap That Deserves Your Attention

This is a weekly column (title is a work in progress) where we look at the best the coming week has to offer in the way of music, DVD, television, and movies. Light week this week as the whole world seemingly shuts down for the godforsaken Olympics. Still, we managed to scrounge up a few potential highlights, listed below for your perusal.

Local Natives/ Gorilla Manor
I’ve been listening to the “Sun Hands” single for a couple of months now and it’s really done a good job of whetting my appetite for this record. For some reason, the record was released in the UK last year despite the fact that the band is from LA but… whatever. It’s here now.

Lightspeed Champion/ Life Is Sweet! Nice To Meet You
Stupid name aside (still not as horrible as Devonte Hynes’s last band, Test Icicles), this one’s getting some decent buzz and the video for “Marlene” is sufficiently trippy.

Black Dynamite
Just watch the trailer. It speaks for itself.

The Invention Of Lying
Ricky Gervais is hardly ever not funny and the concept of a man living in a world where no one understands the concept of lying is an interesting one. Not surprisingly, this didn’t do well at the box office. Probably because it didn’t star Robin Williams and John Travolta as middle-aged buddies getting into crazy and embarrassing situations. That shit sells for some reason – the reason being that the American moviegoing public is generally made up of a bunch of morons. But I digress.

Episode Title: “Skytanic” – I’m going to keep plugging this show until everyone starts watching it. TV Guide’s description says, “A bomb threat jeopardizes a luxury airship’s maiden voyage, sending the ISIS crew into action.” Titanic jokes will abound, no doubt. Worth mentioning again that this is THE FUNNIEST SHOW IN TV RIGHT NOW. Watch it. Seriously.

HBO Friday Comedies
HBO begins an interesting new strategy of airing a comedy block on Friday nights, an anti-TGIF if you will. The night kicks off with an hour of animation as The Ricky Gervais Show (good week for this guy) premieres, followed by the second-season premiere of The Life And Times Of Tim. Gervais = funny as previously stated and The Life And Times Of Tim had a promising first season. Following the animation is the return of the hit-or-miss Real Time With Bill Maher, and the night is capped off with the premiere of Funny Or Die Presents at midnight. Odd that the highest profile show gets shunted to midnight but maybe it’ll just be balls out crazier in that slot. Funny Or Die Presents promises an all-star comedy cast and it’ll be interesting to see how the shorts from translate to TV.

Anything That’s Not The Olympics
For the love of God, just watch anything other than the Olympics. Ice dancing. Really… you people are watching ice dancing and eating it up with a GD spoon. What’s wrong with you?

Shutter Island
Yeah… it looks bad. And Dennis Lehane wrote it so you know someone’s getting molested somewhere, but it’s still Scorcese, right? Right?!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

"Jesus Christ. That Is Just Babytown Frolics."

In the space of five short episodes, Archer has become the funniest show on television… and it isn’t even close. From creator Adam Reed (Sealab 2021, Frisky Dingo), Archer follows the agents of ISIS (International Secret Intelligence Service) as they navigate through both standard spy fare, as well as through office politics in a politically correct world with decidedly un-PC results. Led by an all-star voice cast including Jessica Walter (Arrested Development), Chris Parnell (SNL, 30 Rock), Aisha Tyler (The Soup), and Judy Greer (Adaptation, Arrested Development), without a doubt the standout is H. Jon Benjamin (Late Show With Conan O’Brien, Various Adult Swim cartoons) as the title character, Sterling Archer. Benjamin is perfectly cast as the unhinged Archer who struggles to hold onto what little sanity he possesses while working both for his mother and with his ex-girlfriend and her new (emasculated) lover. Like all top-shelf comedies, Archer works incredibly well as repeat viewing as there may not be another show currently on television where the jokes fly as fast and furiously as they do here. Hulu has brought us all a great Valentine’s Day gift by finally posting the first two episodes online, so I’ve embedded both episodes below. Try not to bust an abdominal muscle from laughing too hard.

Happy V-Day From... Whatever The Hell This Is

'Cause nothing says Valentine's Day like a dude with a pumpkin on his head in a full body leotard randomly dancing to Journey.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

"Kickpuncher, Starring Don 'The Demon' Donaldson As A Cyborg Cop Whose Punches Have The Power Of Kicks."

What arguably started out as a star vehicle for the considerable comedic talents of Joel McHale (The Soup) has turned into probably the funniest show on network television (second on all of TV to only FX’s Archer, and watch for the post on that one later this weekend) on the strength of its ensemble cast. As a viewer, it’s been rewarding to see Community find and develop its voice in its first season, while simultaneously watching its cast gel into a comedic powerhouse. One of the show’s many strengths is the producers’ willingness to constantly mix and match its actors from episode to episode to find the chemistry that may be lurking under the surface of the various character combinations. Below you’ll find “Romantic Expressionism,” one of the season’s strongest episodes. Watch it and you’ll see that I’m right.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Quick 'N Dirty Review - Vampire Weekend | Contra

OK -- a little housekeeping before we get to the first review. Since this is a review, obviously we're gonna judge the record/movie/show/whatever in some manner. We rate on a scale of 100 because... well, there's really no good reason for it -- it's just what we do. Following the rating of a record, you'll find nice little links to the tracks on Lala where you can give 'em a listen for FREE. All it takes is signing up with Lala (which is completely FREE) and away you go. FREE web music -- can't beat it. Also, when available, we'll post a video from the record so you get a little visual stimulation as well. So, without further adieu, we present the first review on The Dirtywhirl Version 2.0. Enjoy.

Vampire Weekend | Contra

The indie band the haters love to take a dump on is back with their sophomore effort, Contra. Following on the heels of their self-titled 2008 debut, Contra is the natural extension of VW’s Afro-pop-influenced, Columbia University-educated sound. Do you know what a balaclava is? How about an Aranchiata? Yeah… me neither and I went to college with the fancy booklearnin’ and whatnot. If you’re Vampire Weekend, you go ahead and use them in the first few verses of Contra’s leadoff track, “Horchata,” (which is itself a drink favored by hipsters – smell the elitism) so, yes Virginia, Contra is indeed as hyper-literate as their debut. Without question, however, they’ve graduated to the next level (or progression) of their sound here. First single, “Cousins,” is “A-Punk” 201 while “White Sky” is more expansive than anything found on Vampire Weekend. This is to say nothing of Contra’s standout track, “Giving Up The Gun,” which is as catchy and buoyant as anything the band’s recorded, or the M.I.A.-sampling “Diplomat’s Son”. Look – if you’ve already decided that you loathe Ezra Koenig and company, you’re likely not going to find anything on Contra that you’re gonna dig. Vampire Weekend is as polarizing a band as there is right now. I get that and I respect it. For fans, however, there’s plenty here to get you excited about where the band’s headed. If nothing else, maybe you’ll even learn a new word or two that’ll let you dominate your next Scrabble get-together.

Dirty Rating: 84/100

Tracks Mentioned In This Review


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Don't Call It A Comeback... OK, Call It A Comeback If You Want To

After two and a half long years, The Dirtywhirl's picking itself up off of the canvas and is getting back to bitching about all things entertainment and sports-related. While our writing muscles may have atrophied over our hiatus leading us to look (metaphorically, of course) like this guy

we're gonna do our best to bring the same irreverent style (eventually -- don't make fun of us while we get our writing legs back) that we brought to our three loyal readers in our previous incarnation. So... stay tuned because the content's a-comin'. Thank you in advance for your indulgence. Let's see how long this lasts.